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Dehydration occurs when there is not enough water or fluids in the body. Your body’s organs need these vital fluids to work properly. Untreated, dehydration can quickly become a life-threatening condition.
At Dignity Health, our emergency doctors are dedicated to providing personalized care to treat dehydration in Arizona. If you are experiencing a life-threatening symptom, call 9-1-1.
The symptoms of dehydration in adults can include:
- Less urine, or not urinating as often as normal
- Headaches — the most common symptom
- Dry, sticky lips and mouth
- Sluggishness and fatigue
In infants, dehydration symptoms include fewer tears than normal and no wet diapers for several hours.
When to Call 911 or Go to the ER
Severe dehydration is life threatening for children and adults. You should call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest urgent care center for these symptoms:
- Urinating small amounts of dark-colored urine
- Not urinating
- Severe diarrhea or vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Weakness and dizziness
- Sunken eyes
- Dry and shriveled skin with little elasticity
- Change in consciousness or alertness
For infants, be aware of these symptoms:
- Limp body posture
- Very soft spot on top of the head (s)unken fontanel
- Extreme sleepiness
If you need to go to the ER, use our InQuicker™ online tool by selecting your estimated hospital arrival time and wait at home until your time to be seen. Upon arrival and check-in, you will see a doctor who will assess your situation and determine the next appropriate level of care.
The primary cause of dehydration is not drinking enough water. Body fluids are lost through sweat and urine, and need to be replaced throughout the day. If you notice you are thirsty, it is a sign that you are already dehydrated.
Certain situations can cause dehydration to happen much faster:
- Being at high elevation
- Drinking alcohol
- Extra activity and sweating
- Excessive heat and low humidity
These conditions can cause the body to lose too much water, leading to dehydration:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Diarrhea or vomiting from an upset stomach or stomach flu
- Treatment with diuretics to lower blood pressure or to treat fluid buildup (for heart failure)
- Morning sickness during pregnancy
Severe Dehydration Treatment
When you visit a doctor at Dignity Health for dehydration symptoms, he or she will perform a physical exam, during which blood and urine samples will be taken and tested. These tests will help your doctor determine the severity of your condition and whether an underlying medical problem, such as diabetes, is the cause.
If necessary, your doctor can treat dehydration by giving you intravenous (IV) fluids. This may take place in a hospital or outpatient care facility. While your body is rehydrating, you will be monitored for low blood pressure, a rapid heart rate, or abnormal kidney function. As part of our emergency services, Dignity Health provides prompt care to diagnose and treat all stages of dehydration in Arizona.